Vanderbilt University Medical CEO: 3 revenue wins for academic medical centers

Academic medical centers are distinguished by their research enterprises, a characteristic that can generate revenue streams unique to competitors.

Jeffrey Balser, MD, PhD, leads an AMC. He is the dean of Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and president and CEO of Vanderbilt University Medical Center, both in Nashville, Tenn. During a session titled "The Future of Academic Medicine: How to Monetize Expertise, Diversify Revenue and Advance Clinical Innovation" at the Becker's Hospital Review 8th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable in November, Dr. Balser shared three core economic wins of AMCs.

Here are the three advantages Dr. Balser shared:

1. Unique service lines in competitive markets. Vanderbilt faces big competitors in Nashville, like HCA Healthcare and St. Louis-based Ascension. Dr. Balser said he knew Vanderbilt couldn't compete with the systems on commodity healthcare, but through research could create distinctive clinical trials and cell therapy treatments that attracted patients.

2. Novel informatics platforms. Vanderbilt began investing in informatics in 1993. Today, the university's biomedical informatics department has more than a hundred faculty members. Researchers at the institute create scalable information projects like DNA sequencing to deliver genomic information that matches patients with the best treatment at the point of care. Doing so has helped the system save $35 million on inpatient drugs. The return on investment has presented an opportunity for Vanderbilt to export the informatics technology to other health systems.

3. Sellable innovations. An advantage AMCs have is their ability to innovate and package new solutions and products to the healthcare market, Dr. Balser said. A recent success for the university has been in in-house specialty pharmacy. A marketable product, Vanderbilt Health Rx Solutions, came out of Vanderbilt's specialty pharmacy success. The product includes consulting for other health systems looking to start their own specialty pharmacies.

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